Ouch, Quit It.

About a year ago, I became convinced that I was dying of some phantom terminal disease.  After a couple of months, I concluded it was cancer.  Specifically breast cancer.  I’d found a small lump…the more I obsessed about it, the bigger the lump got.  The doctor said “Stop worrying.  I didn’t feel a thing.” 

But I didn’t stop worrying.  I worried MORE.  If it wasn’t breast cancer, then it must be my liver.  My skin looked pale and yellow.  Lord!  I went and got the gout!  No, wait.  my colon.  Yes!  I’ve got colon cancer!  So I went and had colon hydrotherapy and lost 10 pounds in an hour.  (Yes, yes…we all know what I’m full of.)  I began taking a random assortment of vitamin supplements, stabbing at some phantom body-wrecker in the dark. 

A couple more months went by and I felt myself slipping into some horrible abyss of pain, apathy and anger.  I felt betrayed by my body.  I’d just gotten my head-meds straightened out, then my body went and got stupid on me.  Getting out of bed became a major chore.  I began puking up everything that I ingested.  If there wasn’t anything to come up, then I’d dry heave.  I began to lose weight at break-neck speed.  My skin became sallow and my cheeks sunken. 

Throughout all of this, I began an intense journey inward.  I began to break through some emotional barriers that had been intact most of my life.  I began to make contact with parts of me that I didn’t know existed.  I read stacks and stacks of books (still do for that matter), everything from chakra cleansing to the power of the mind-body connection.  While my body was crumbling beneath me, my brain had never been sharper.  I absorbed things like a sea-sponge, able to comprehend even the most complicated scientific findings on Limbic brain mapping and blood-brain barrier issues. 

It was an article on the Nocebo Effect that turned everything upside down and right-side up.  I’d never even heard of “Nocebo”.  As it happens, Nocebo is the bastard brother of Placebo.  The underbelly of the bizarre placebo phenomenon.  The actual meaning of Nocebo is “I will harm”.  An ill effect caused by the suggestion or belief that something is harmful. Friendly, eh?  Tell people a medical procedure will be extremely painful, for example, and they will experience more pain than if you had kept the bad news to yourself. Similarly, experiences of side effects within the placebo groups of drug trials have shown that a doctor’s warning about the possible side effects of a medicine makes it much more likely that the patient will report experiencing those effects.

Probably the same thing as when a mother drops her kid off at daycare.  If the mother won’t leave and lingers around the doorway, crying and looking distraught herself…then the kid is going to do the same thing.  Drop the kid off with hugs, kisses and a happy-times face, and the process goes a tad more smooth. 

The Nocebo article prompted me to delve a bit deeper into the whole mind-body connection, and what I found blew my mind.  Quite literally.  The concept of emotions causing physical pain made perfect sense to me.  Like I said, while my busted up body was rendering me useless, my mind and spiritual body were making great leaps of progress in working through some deeply rooted issues. 

It so happens that science is beginning to understand the impact of emotions.  (Anger has been shown to affect the liver.  When we are angry, we create toxins that our body must deal with. )  The closer I got to understanding, the sicker I seemed to get.  I finally went to see my doctor and requested a full-blown barrage of tests to narrow things down.  Everything came back “normal”, with the exception of a fairly substantial vitamin D deficiency. 

By this time, I was getting several migraines each day…prompting me to drill deeper into the subject of brain dysfunction.  With the help of cognitive behavioral therapy, I’d made a huge breakthrough regarding early childhood abandonment issues….a few days later, everything began coming together.

I studied the long-term effects of my head-meds and learned that two of them caused a major dopamine depletion.  My serotonin levels had been completely wasted about three years ago due to an SSRI,  my digestive tract was hosed…and the gut is what produces most of the serotonin in your body.  Not the brain.  I learned the molecular process of precursors and their function regarding these two chemicals.  It became clear that I’d have to supplement with the precursors of dopamine and serotonin so that my meds could do their job.  L-Tyrosine for my dopamine levels and 5-HTP for the serotonin.  B6, Niacin and Vitamin C to ensure maximum absorbtion.

I tried to explain this epiphany to my husband a little like this:  My head-meds are the equivalent of  two-year old toddlers.  They’re supposed to have toys to play with, food to eat….but they’ve already eaten all the food and the toys went missing.  After a few months, they got bored and began to look around for something to do.  Hey!  Let’s throw tantrums and start kicking the crap out of each other AND our keeper!  C’mon!  On my count…1-2-3-…….migraines, weight loss, depression, apathy, social withdrawal, an obsessions with sweets and carbs,  insomnia, mood swings, outbursts of anger……(I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you.)

I made a serious contract with my body…I promised to clean house and throw out the trash, replacing it with the good stuff.  I created a routine for myself.  When to eat, what to eat, what supplements to take, when to take them, not over-doing it, sleep scheduling and stress reduction.  Within a week of beginning a multiple vitamin, Fiber 35, L-Tyrosine, 5-HTP, Niacin, Vitamin D, B12, B6, Vitamin C, Zinc and calcium, nothing short of a miracle occurred. 

After a few days of physical suffering, also referred to as a Healing Crisis (Herxheimer’s Reaction), my headaches stopped completely.  I was eating and not puking.  I gained 5 pounds in 4 days.  I had energy.  I was calm in situations that would have previously sent me over the edge.  Oohhmmmm!  (That was my angelic realm sound.)

Here’s the moral of the story.  If it hadn’t been for my serious decline in health, I would’ve never gotten to the core of my soul to deal with the root of my pain.  A year ago, I thought I thought I had it all figured out.  Now I’ve realized that the most important thing we can do is forgive, let go of our past and live in the present moment.  I thought I’d already done all of that….but apparently I was still holding on to a little bit of it. 

I didn’t make this journey alone.  I was surrounded by physicians, therapists and family.  It was this synergenic relationship that held my head above water while I kicked frantically below the stagnant waters of my emotions.  And it’s these relationships that will continue to be my foundation and reference point.  If you could hear the soundtrack of my life, you’d be hearing Karen Carpenter’s skinny self singing, “We’ve only just begun…” 

Now?  I’m working through Carolyn Myss’ “Sacred Contracts“.  A process that helps you find your true calling and life purpose with the help of archetypical imagery.  As hard as it is, I’ve completely erased my own theories of my “Divine Potential” and have opened myself up to something more. (God, don’t say I have to sing….please.  Don’t.)  I understand that I have to leave my comfort zone.  I have to mingle with other people.  While I used to thrive in this arena, my recent self-imposed isolation has made this whole idea rather daunting.  Just this morning, I received this daily meditation quote in my email inbox:

“Undertake something that is difficult; it will do you
good.  Unless you try to do something beyond
what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

~ Ronald E. Osborn

My biggest life lesson up to this point has been this:  All lessons come from the journey, not the destination.  That Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.  My mom told me that when I was little…I’d be riding an amusement park ride…and instead of enjoying the moment, I was talking about what I wanted to ride next. 

 Old habits die hard.  Sometimes, you gotta give them rat poisoning and junk.

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One Response

  1. That’s quite a journey, and I agree, the journey is the most important part. And if most serotonin is produced in the GI tract, that is why we like to eat so much. Beware of the sleeper though. My sister-in-law died of breast cancer after her doctor told her to stop worrying so much.

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